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Breakthrough for Community Schools!

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Breakthrough for Community Schools

Tony Blair and Secretary Duncan join forces to promote community schools.
Vol. VI, No. 7

In a packed room at the Center for America Progress (CAP), former Prime Minister Tony Blair called for community schools. Schools should be "the center for the support and nurture for the future generation – not simply education in the narrow sense…and they [schools] need to be a resource and a source of strength not just for the children in the school, but for the whole of the community." Access the video and transcript.

The Center for American Progress is regarded as the nation’s foremost progressive think tank. In their report A Look at Community Schools they note "…a growing number of community schools have bridged the gap between the provision of antipoverty services and an excellent academic program." The report provides an overview of community schools across the United States as well as in England. The Coalition for Community Schools is mentioned prominently in this report. Visit for further news, policy, and research on community schools.

During the panel discussion, Secretary Arne Duncan stressed that schools need to be open longer – not just 6 hours a day, 5 days a week. "When children and families learn together great things happen for the community. We have to move with a huge sense of urgency." Blair and Duncan agreed that the challenges our youth face are the reason we need community schools. In fact, the challenges are a result of their life circumstances -not just a matter of insufficient time in school.

CAP CEO John Podesta pressed Duncan on whether community schools were in conflict with other reforms [e.g., teacher quality, standards and assessment]. Secretary Duncan replied, community schools are "Not in conflict AND central to reform."

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer who recently reintroduced the Full Service Community School Act called the flurry of community schools activity across the country a "movement… because what we are engaged in is nothing less than a project to re-imagine what a school can be". Hoyer echoed Blair and Duncan, remarking, "… more than a century ago, faced with the demands of urbanization, immigration, and universal education, the first community schools reformers came to realize that schools can be—and often must be—more than just places for instruction. They can be the center of their communities." Access his full speech.

In a following panel discussion, Cindy Brown (Vice President for Education Policy, Center for American Progress ) chatted with Randi Weingarten (President of the AFT), Jane Quinn (Children’s Aid Society, Assistant Executive Director for Community Schools), and Roberto Rodriguez (Special Assistant to the President for Education Policy, White House Domestic Policy Council). They discussed the importance of community schools as a support to teachers and as a necessity for children and their families to achieve positive outcomes. Rodriguez stressed that "the promise of community schools is central to the charge that the President has put before us of providing complete and competitive education to all students."

Since the event, the media has been buzzing about community schools! Check out the latest:

News articles

Blogs – We encourage you to comment on these and other related blogs. If "blogging" isn’t your thing, then write a Letter to the Editor in your local newspaper!

Audio Clips
  • Prime Minister Tony Blair
Part I: Education is the great human liberator
Part II: Money isn’t everything
Part III: Mediocre schools are a problem
Part IV: Importance of getting a good education
  • U. S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
Part I: The way schools are run needs to change
Part II: Beyond bricks and mortar
  • U.S. House of Representative Steny Hoyer
Part I: Schools are more than just a place of instruction
Part II: Price of schools
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